On Tuesday, Cruz, our nation’s least likable and most worm-like politician, brandished The End of Policing as a prop in the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Cruz wanted to tie Jackson, a Black woman, to the boogieman of critical race theory, using books on a recommended reading list for a private school where Jackson serves as a member of the board of trustees as damning evidence of her radical beliefs. Jackson ultimately told Cruz that the boogieman of critical race theory “doesn’t come up in the work that I do as a judge.”
Did Cruz score the rhetorical points he was hoping for? Hopefully not. But his stunt, and the photo evidence that spread on Twitter afterwards, were a boon for the man who wrote The End of Policing—Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center who has spent decades studying policing. Now, four years after it was first published, Vitale’s book is the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s government social policy category as of this writing, a boost Vitale says is all thanks to Cruz. (Vitale even joked on Twitter that every newly purchased copy of his book “now comes with a vial of Ted Cruz tears.”)
We spoke to Vitale about this unexpected sales bump, why he doesn’t think his book belongs in a serious conversation about critical race theory, and why everyone’s so scared of his work in the first place.